March 13th, 2004.
Getting a PET Scan was a very interesting experience! By the
way, PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography, which I thought
was interesting in itself.
Delia scheduled my PET Scan for Saturday, March 13th, at
noon. The next day, the hospital staff where it was to be
done called and asked if I could make it for 11:30 instead.
That was fine with me. The day before the scan, they called
again to confirm my appointment, and to go over the requirements,
which included 6 hours of fasting beforehand, consuming nothing
but water, do no exercise, and that I should get there an hour
early, at 10:30. No problem. They also
suggested I wear warm clothes, since it can get pretty chilly in
the PET scan unit. I planned on wearing joggers.
I woke up about 6:am, just in time to miss breakfast and my
morning coffee, and spent the morning playing around on the
computer here and surfing. About 10, we left for the
hospital, which was only about 15 minutes away, and got there in
plenty of time. It was sunny and warm, and there didn't seem
to be much going on at the hospital when we arrived. We got
a parking space very close to the front entrance and walked in
with the CAT scan film.
Inside, we were directed down a short hall to an area not far from
the front desk, where I followed the instructions on a counter and
filled in my name and why I was there on a slip of paper and
dropped it into a box. Then I picked out a magazine and had
a seat to wait. About 15 minutes later, one of the staff
came out and called my name. I stood and she said that the
PET staff had been notified that I was there, and that they'd be
there soon to get me. I sat back down to read some more.
Another 15 minutes or so went by, and a woman in a white smock
walked in from down the hall somewhere and called my name.
She told us that I'd be about an hour and 45 minutes, and that mom
should wait there. Mom was okay with that, and kept at the
crocheting she'd brought with her while I followed the nurse back
down the hall. As we neared a door that led out to another
parking lot behind the hospital, another nurse that was standing
there said, "I'll trade ya..." The second nurse
led me out into the parking lot and toward a trailer with the
words "Positron Emission Tomography" on it.
The PET scan unit is built into a trailer that looks like it was
made just for that purpose. The first indication that there
was something special about it was that there was a platform we
walked onto that was positioned about in the middle of the
trailer. It had a rail around it and a gate, and the nurse
indicated for me to step onto it with her. She pressed some
control buttons, and the thing lifted us up about four feet off
the ground and a door kind of like a small garage door opened to
allow us into the trailer. I eyed the stairs a few feet away
that led up to a regular door in the trailer, and speculated that
this had to do with the 'no exercise' advice they'd given me the
Inside, there were three sections. The largest held the
machine, which looked very much like the CAT scan donuts I was
used to seeing, though the hole in it seemed a bit smaller, and
there were different looking controls and light panels on it's
face. Also, the table was curved on the bottom, like half a
shell casing, which was a little different. The middle
section, which we walked into from the platform, had the
technician's station, with a couple of computers set up at a desk
built into the wall, and some chairs. She led me into the
third section, which was the smallest of the three. In it,
there was a comfy recliner, some medical apparatus for injections
and IV set-ups, and something that looked a bit like one of those
little refrigerators a college student might have in their
room. A sticker that looked a lot like this was on it:
I had a seat in the recliner and noticed right away that it wasn't
an ordinary Lazy Boy. For one thing, it was up higher than a
regular recliner. My feet didn't even reach the floor.
In any case, it was very comfortable, and I sat back, very
The nurse said she needed to get some blood to check my sugar
count before they could proceed, and asked which arm I
prefer. I told her it didn't matter, and said that most
nurses can get blood pretty easily from either one. She was
standing to my right, so I offered it up and she went to
work. First, the tourniquet, then the poke at a vein, which
wiggled away from her. She stabbed at it again, and it
evaded her once more. A few more tries, and she called the
other nurse in for a go at it. The other nurse started
fresh, made a new poke, and got the same results.
Eventually, they both gave up and decided to try the other arm,
which gave up the Buck-juice just fine and without a fuss.
They installed an IV, got the blood, and flushed it with some
After a quick test on the blood, they were satisfied that they
could proceed, and pulled a short, fat syringe out of the
radioactive materials storage box that had a thick metal sleeve
around it. I commented that it was a strange looking
syringe, and she explained that it was to protect them from the
radiation, which is what I figured. She said it was tungsten
and that lead wouldn't do the trick. She injected the
material into me through the IV, then pulled the IV from me and
said it would take about 40 minutes for it to travel my
system. She said I should refrain from moving around, and
suggested I take a short nap as she pushed the recliner back so
I'd be lying down. With that, she shut off the lights and
went back to the technician's station, closing the door between us
behind her. Without my morning caffeine fix, I readily
drifted off for a few winks.
Forty minutes later, they came back in and woke me up, saying it
was time for me to go urinate. Back out to the platform and
down we went, crossed the parking lot back to the hospital, and I
was showed the way to a restroom close to the entrance. The
nurse told me that when I was done to just return to the trailer.
She was waiting for me at the platform when I returned, and up we
went. Back inside the trailer, I was ushered into the room
with the donut machine and asked to get up onto the big shell
casing. I climbed aboard and lay down with my head toward
the machine, my head and neck in a "U" shaped rubber
headrest to keep it where they wanted. She had me place my
arms at my sides, but the shell casing was too narrow to rest them
on it. It was slimmer than my body. She took the sheet
beneath me and wrapped me up in it like a cocoon, which held my
arms in place, and I was quite comfortable.
The shell casing and I moved head first into and through the donut
hole, until it was above my waist. Other than the hum of the
machine, I didn't hear another sound for about the next
hour. Every 10 minutes or so, the shell casing and I moved
another several inches into the donut hole, in the direction of my
feet on the other side of it, then it was motionless again till
the next move. Eventually, my head came out the other side,
and a nurse came in and unwrapped me, saying, "Okay, you're
all done. Have a nice day."
One last trip down the platform, and I crossed the parking lot,
retraced my steps back to where mom was still crocheting, and
announced that I was starving. We got some fast food on the
way home, and then stopped off to get some lotto tickets.
I'm feeling lucky!
The doctor called the day after I saw him and said that he's been
thinking about Marvin, and it's bothering him a bit that it's not
shrinking as expected. He wants a biopsy of it, and said
he'll get it set up and let me know when we'll do it. It'll
be done right across the street from his office, at Washington
Memorial Hospital. I told him I'm okay with that, and to
just let me know when. I'll pass the date and time on here
in my journal as soon as I get that info.
Rituxan is scheduled for Wednesday, and chemo on Thursday.
I'll update again after them, unless something significant happens